Here’s My Fingerprint; How About Yours?

A few years ago, I knew that I needed to figure out exactly what my role in this world should be.  My children were almost grown and I had friends grieving through empty nest syndrome.  I knew, after 30 years of raising children, homeschooling them, being with them 24/7, that empty nest could hit me hard.  But only if I didn’t have a purpose beyond raising  my kids.
I think most of us come to that place several times in our lives, where we aren’t quite sure what to do next.  Or maybe we know what to do, but aren’t sure how.  Or maybe we know how … but something’s blocking us.
  • Maybe you’re a younger person, just starting out in life, wondering how you’re going to make it in the world, what kind of mark you can leave.
  • Maybe you know your purpose, but there are things getting in the way … depression, habits that don’t serve you well, disorganization, or a simple lack of confidence.  You may or may not know how to change those things, but you’re still having a hard time.  
  • Maybe there’s an area of faith that you want to work on.  You want to grow closer to God and be able to follow Him intimately, and you need someone to help you along.
  • Or you’re a new or proven homeschooler who needs some help getting organized, scheduling, choosing curriculum … or juggling the needs of family, school, a business, and everything else you’ve got going.

 

  • You might be a stay-home mom or a single parent who’s starting to feel like she’s lost track of herself and needs to know how to take care of herself so she can better serve her kids and others.
  • Perhaps you’re nearing or in your golden years and you’re thinking about how to leave the greatest impact on those in your circles of influence.  You want your life to really count.  You have wisdom to share or gifts to still be used.  You don’t want to waste a moment.
If you’ve read my blog before, you’ve probably heard me say (or seen me write) that I strongly believe every single experience in our lives — good, bad, success, failure — and each of our gifts, talents, skills, and resources all add up to basically a customized school that God put together for us, training us for our very unique contribution to the world.  Your contribution is so unique that it’s like your fingerprint — no one else, anywhere, at any time, has the same unique fingerprint you do.
I’ve realized that my contribution to the world is to help others discover and define their fingerprint and leave their indelible mark. It’s what entices me out of a cozy bed in the morning and brings joy to my day.  I’d love to work alongside you in finding yours and helping you do whatever is necessary to be able to leave your fingerprints in the strategic places God wants you to place them!
The thing that can make the difference between success and failure is having someone on your team who can look on from the sidelines and make suggestions, encourage you, educate you, celebrate with you, and give you that bit of oomph to make it to your goals.  
As your life coach, that’s what I do.  We talk about your goals, your dreams.  We figure out where you are, where you want to be, and how to get from here to there.  We work together to bring it down to steps that you can’t help but succeed with.  If accountability helps, I can do that for you without judgment or shaming, but with a lot of helpful encouragement.  We’ll figure out what’s blocking your progress, and I’ll help you find motivation in the rough spots.  I’m there to celebrate your victories with you and plot your course with you as you reach higher and higher.  So often, this is the one thing that makes all the difference in the world.
I’m invested in helping you reach your goals.  I strongly believe that you have something to contribute to this world that no one else, now or historically or in the future, is able to give.  If you don’t do it, the rest of us lose out.
If you’re ready to step up and work on leaving your fingerprint on the world, sign up for a free breakthrough session with me.  Let’s get to know each other and get you moving forward. 
If you’re not quite ready, feel free to sign up for my mailing list – use the link at http://lifecoachalycekay.com/  You’ll receive a series of emails from me over the next couple months with questions to help you think through the process.  You can journal about them privately, or share your thoughts with me by email. In the meantime, stop by my coaching blog, leave a comment … let’s start getting to know each other.  Pretend we’re sitting on my swing in my yard in Tennessee, with the dogwood blooming and a pitcher of tea between us.  🙂  (Yeah, I’m homesick.)
dogwood
Hoping that this spring brings you so close your dreams that you can finally touch them.Alyce-Kay

http://lifecoachalycekay.com/

A Look Inside: Next Year In New Jerusalam

As we near Passover, I wanted to share in detail about my book, Next Year in New Jerusalem.  It’s still available as a print book, but is newly available as a 23-day email series, which can be used for personal study, devotions, or as a step-by-step guide to putting on your own Christ-centered Seder.

This is more than a Seder script (Haggadah).  It’s also an explanation of the depth of spiritual wealth in the Passover celebration, followed by a Christian Haggadah, using the traditional 6-hour Haggadah as a guide, condensed into 3 hours (including supper), with the institution and celebration of footwashing and the Lord’s Supper woven into the places in the Seder when they would have taken place during Jesus’ last Passover with His disciples, before He was sacrificed as the final Passover Lamb, who takes away the sins of the world.

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The new version of Next Year in New Jerusalem

What will you find in Next Year In New Jerusalem?  One of the things you may not realize is the importance of preparation for Passover, both logistically and spiritually.  This edition is the same as the original edition — intentionally, so that you can use it together with any of the old copies you have.

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Working with the original edition, updating and rechecking the references.

I’ve tried to include lots of ideas as well as detailed instructions in this edition of the book.  Below is the table of contents and I’ll explain a little about each chapter.

Table of Contents

Introduction  5
Getting Ready for Passover  9
When to Celebrate Passover  13
Preparing the Home  15
Preparing the Hearts  19
The Four Questions  23
Preparing the Table  25
Shopping List  29
Items for the Great Leaven Hunt  30
Additional Activities to Keep Children Busy  31
The Great Leaven Hunt  33
The Passover Meal & Ceremony  37
How to Make Jesus Your Messiah  69
Glossary of Terms  73

While the bulk of the book is the Seder script, I’ve included a number of chapters to help you understand Passover and help it to be a heart experience.  And because the logistics of the Passover Seder can be complicated, I’ve included lists and detailed descriptions to walk you step-by-step through the preparation and execution of your Seder.

In the Introductory section, I explain how Christians can benefit from a celebration of Passover.  While there are many benefits, one of the main thrusts of Passover is to remember and to teach — remember what God has done for us, and teach that to our children and others.  I believe this is a very important thing to do, through Passover and through other events in your life.  We see throughout Scripture how important it is to remind ourselves and others continually about what God has done for us.  This is how we grow our faith and keep it alive.  When we have a rich repository of God’s work in our lives, we are able to face the challenges of life with a stronger belief in God and trust in His guidance, protection, and provision.  The Introduction section helps you to understand the philosophy of Passover celebration … the why’s.

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Elijah’s place at our Seder table last year

Getting Ready for Passover helps you begin to understand the how’s of the Seder script preparation.  The script is written, using the traditional 6-hour Seder script (haggadah) as a template, but the entire Seder (including supper) in Next Year In New Jerusalem is condensed to approximately 3 hours.  (More about the Seder later, along with a sample from it.)  Because we never know how many people will be at our Seder from year to year, and because I want to encourage you to include others in your celebration, the readers in the script part are left blank for you to fill in.  This section gives you tips for doing that, as well as ideas for helping your guests feel more at home during the ceremony … and some potentially awkward situations to avoid.  🙂

As Christians, we have many options for when to celebrate Passover.  This chapter, When to Celebrate Passover, explains some of those possibilities.  In Preparing the Home, you’ll learn about the role of leaven in Passover and you’ll be invited to dedicate your home to God each year.  This is a wonderful opportunity to make an intentional commitment to allowing your home be a place that glorifies God.  Preparing the Hearts suggests ways to focus your own and your family’s hearts on Jesus, the Passover Lamb, through stories, books, activities and music.  I’ve prepared a Passover playlist on youtube for my grandchildren and I invite you to make use of this as well.  There’s a lot in the Passover Seder to keep the time lively and engaging for children of all ages.

The Four Questions (which are really 5 questions) are an important part of the Seder and these are listed with the Bible references so that you can prepare the children to ask these questions and watch for their answers during the Seder.  There are also Additional Activities To Keep Children Busy during the waiting periods.

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Preparing the Table is probably the most logistically focused section of the book, as there are a number of things that have to be included on the table and need to be arranged in a specific way.  The chapter takes you step-by-step, in detail, through setting your Seder table.  By the time you get to this chapter, you will have a good grasp of the components of the Seder.  I have to say that I, somewhat selfishly, I suppose, reserve the preparation of the Seder table for myself, because I enjoy the special time with the Lord as I pray for the participants and saturate myself in the Passover symbolism and wealth of reminders of God’s goodness.  For pictures from our celebration of Passover in 2013, you can view my Passover album at https://www.facebook.com/alycekay.hanush/media_set?set=a.10200419487223559.1073741826.1047433008&type=3  For an album of ideas for your Seder Table, https://www.facebook.com/alycekay.hanush/media_set?set=a.10202458128148308.1073741855.1047433008&type=3

The Great Leaven Hunt is an optional pre-Seder activity which is based on Jewish tradition, but takes on a distinctly Christian flavor here.  During the Seder itself, you will be celebrating the Passover, Jesus Instituted the Eucharist (a.k.a. Communion) during His final Passover celebration with His disciples. The Bible warns us of celebrating the Lord’s Supper in an unworthy manner.  The Great Leaven Hunt is both an educational and fun activity for the children, and an opportunity for each participant to examine his or her heart and leave anything at the cross that shouldn’t be brought to the Table.

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The Passover Meal and Ceremony make up the bulk of the book, of course.  I’ve excerpted a couple sections below, so you can see how it works.  But a bit of explanation first.  You’ll notice blanks before each new line in the Seder.  These blanks are for you to fill out with the names of your reading guests.  Detailed instructions and suggestions are given earlier in the book.  This takes some time to prepare, which is one of the reasons you don’t want to wait until the day of your Seder to start preparations!  I recommend filling these in a few days ahead of time, then the day before the Seder, sitting down with your children or a couple helpers and filling in the names in all the copies (in pencil so you can change these for next year).  It’s best to wait until close to the Seder to fill in all the Haggadahs which will be used by your guests, just in case there are any changes in your guest list.

This Haggadah includes appropriate Scripture references all throughout.  These are not meant to be read, per se, at the Seder itself, but are meant for additional study and reference.  There are many Scriptural allusions in the Jewish Haggadah, and I’ve included even more here; this way, you can spend time, if you like, familiarizing yourself to the Scriptures the Seder is based on. I can’t begin to express what a wonderful blessing this is for you and your family.  You might even want to spend the week before Passover reading these passages in your family devotions — or make one of these references each night into your family devotions from New Years until Passover.

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The following are two of the sections of the Haggadah in Next Year In New Jerusalem, so you can get an idea of how the script works and how the traditional Jewish haggadah is overlaid with the fulfillment of Passover prophecy in Jesus and His institution of the Lord’s Supper.

Breaking of the Middle Matzah

(________ standing, lifts up the plate with the matzah for everyone to see.)

________:  This is the Bread of Affliction which Israel ate in the land of Egypt.  Let all who are hungry come and eat.  Let all who are needy come and celebrate the Passover with us.  (Deuteronomy 16:3; Psalm 146:7; Deuteronomy 15:11)

(________ seats himself.)

________:  Now we are here; next year may we be in the Land of Israel, or better yet, in the New Jerusalem, which will come down from Heaven.  We were formerly slaves; now we are free.  (Revelation 21:1-4, Romans 6:20-22)

________:  Let’s pray for those who are still slaves to sin.

(Pray generally and/or specifically for friends and relatives who do not know Christ.)

________:  There are three pieces of matzah here.  They are each distinct, yet they are one on this plate.  This matzah reminds us of God.  He is three persons — Father, Son, and Holy Spirit — but He is one God.  (Deuteronomy 6:4)

________:  This is a mystery to us, one we will probably never fully comprehend, but it is true.

________:  Jesus, the Son of God, is the only person in the trinity that anyone has ever seen or touched.  Likewise, the middle piece of matzah is the only piece that is ever seen or touched.  To the Jews, this is a mystery.  To us, it represents Christ.  The Jews remove the middle piece of matzah and break it.  (I John 1:1)

(________ places the matzah plate on the table.  He removes the middle piece, being careful not to expose the other two pieces.  He holds the middle piece of matzah up and breaks it, reciting I Corinthians 5:7b:)

________: “Christ our Passover has been sacrificed.”  (I Corinthians 5:7b)

(He wraps half of the broken matzah with the extra napkin and puts the other piece back on the plate.)

________:  Jesus was sacrificed like the Passover Lamb, so that death would pass over us.  When He died, His body was wrapped in cloth and hidden away in a new tomb.  (Exodus 12:13; Matthew 27:57-60)

(All the children must close their eyes while ________ hides the wrapped and broken matzah.  The traditional hiding place is behind the father’s cushion, but you may feel free to break with tradition and hide it anywhere you want.  The children will search for it later.)

(This next portion comes quite a bit later in the Seder.)

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The Lord’s Supper: The Bread

(________ passes the broken half of matzah around.  Each person breaks off a piece and holds it. ________ takes an extra piece to crush.)

________:  This bread, free from leaven (which reminds us of sin) is a symbol to us of Christ.  Notice that it is striped and pierced.

________:  “He was pierced through for our transgressions.  (Isaiah 53:5)

________:  “He was crushed for our iniquities. (He crushes his extra piece in his hand as this is said, for all to see.)

________:  “The chastening for our well-being fell upon Him,

________:  “And with His stripes we are healed.”  (Last line is King James version.)

________:  “For I received from the Lord that which I also delivered to You, that the Lord Jesus in the night in which He was betrayed took bread; and when He had given thanks …”  (I Corinthians 11:23-24)

(________ stands, holding a piece of matzah in one hand, with his other held over it in blessing.)

________:  We bless You, O Lord our God, King of the Universe, who gives us bread to eat.  We bless You, O Lord our God, King of the Universe, who sets us apart to be holy and freed us from our sins.

________:  “… He broke it, and said, “This  is My body, which is broken for you; do this in remembrance of Me.”  (I Corinthians 11:24)

(EACH PERSON eats their piece of matzah.)

The section after the Seder, How to Receive Jesus the Messiah, is written for your guests who have not yet received Jesus.  It’s written in an easy to understand manner which doesn’t assume any church or biblical knowledge.  I hope that this section will be useful in introducing others to the Messiah they’ve just celebrated.

The final chapter, The Glossary of Terms, sounds a little boring, but I hope it’s actually one of the most interesting.  It explains some of the terms used in the haggadah that you might not be familiar with, as well as some of the background meaning and interesting facts.

To purchase Next Year In New Jerusalem, you can use the link below.  Feel free to contact me, either on Facebook or through the comments section below, with any questions you have.

To sign up for my book updates – Click Here – This will score you the latest info about new books, specials, and occasionally, a plug for a book I think is really great by another author.

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Next Year in New …

Alyce-Kay Hanush

$6.50

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https://www.etsy.com/listing/224328069/next-year-in-new-jerusalem-email-series?ref=shop_home_active_1

Spiritual Journeys

Tools for Godly Living/Alyce-Kay are considering offering some courses in Christian topics and we would like to know what subjects would most interest people.  Here are some of the details (and see Q&A/update after the survey at the end):

  • You would not go anywhere for these.
  • The classes would meet as a teleconference call every two weeks.  If you can’t make the call, it would be recorded for you to listen to later (you’d just miss out on participating in the discussion).
  • There would be daily or weekly Bible study assignments and application projects which you would print from online (you would choose your level of difficulty by how much time you want to put into it).
  • There would be a dedicated Facebook page for further discussion, questions, and sharing.
  • Each class would be 90 days long.
  • They would be appropriate for high school through adults, as well as some junior highers.
  • These could also be used by groups; for example, church groups, Sunday School classes, home Bible study groups, families, and homeschoolers.  (If you’re a group, we can talk about how this can best be used by your specific group.  If you homeschool, we can help you determine which  school subjects these could apply to.)
  • If you’ve ever taken any of Alyce-Kay’s SoD (School of Discipleship) classes, these would be something like those.

Note that Tools for Godly Living courses are always biblically based, strong on helping you discover for yourself what God’s Word says.  They are meant for study, not for just sitting back and listening.  My personal commitment is always to bring you to a closer relationship with God and a stronger commitment to Him.

My background is a BA from Westmont College in Religious Studies (emphasis in theology and Greek).  I’ve taught Bible classes for all ages most of my life and have written my own curriculum for almost all of them, as well as curriculum for individual home Bible study and homeschoolers.  My doctrine & apologetics course for children was approved by pastors from 17 denominations, and I generally try to stick to what is appropriate for all denominations in most of my teaching.  (In other words, I try to stay focused on essentials.)

I want these courses to be accessible to anyone,  so there would not be a set charge.  You are completely welcome to take them free of charge.  If the Lord puts it on your heart to pay any amount for them, it would definitely help and would make it more possible for me to continue offering these courses in the future.

If you think you might be interested (no obligation), I’d like to know what kinds of topics interest people the most.  Please note that there are actually 2 surveys below.  You may vote for as many of the following as you find interesting.   You may also add other choices.  If you don’t find enough room in the survey,  feel free to add your suggestions in the comments area (scroll all the way to the bottom of the page).

Please  share this with your friends, church, Bible study group, homeschool group, on Facebook, etc.  Thanks so much for your help!

You are not required to fill out the contact info in order to vote, but please do fill it out, if you’d like us to let you know when we offer these classes.

Since posting this, I’ve received a few really good questions, so I thought I would share them here.

Q:  Would people outside the USA be able to join these classes?

A:  Yes!  The only thing is that it would be an international call to be on the teleseminars (including listening to the recording of the calls).  I’m sure there must be a way, since we would be recording them, to put them on mP3 or some other format that could be listened to online or downloaded, so that you wouldn’t have to make an international call.  If someone overseas is interested, then I will check around and find out how to do this.  I’ve been on teleconferences (seminars held on a conference call) with people from all over, and it is incredibly effective.  You can just sit in your own home and participate — or get together with a group of friends so you can participate together.  I really love this format!

Q:  Will you (Alyce-Kay) be teaching the classes?

A:  Yes! You know I LOVE to teach.  🙂

Q:  Will there be a charge for the classes?

A:  It will be up to each person whether or not they pay or how much. I want people to be able to do it, even if they can’t afford it, so I don’t want to charge a set amount. As a single mom barely getting by, I know how that is. Also, there are some people who wouldn’t pay, but would benefit from it, so I don’t want to hinder them either. If God puts it on anyone’s heart to pay, it would help me, obviously, to pay bills, etc, and I will be putting a lot of work into it.  It would also make it easier for me to offer more classes, as those who pay would help free me up from having to put overtime in at work to pay the bills.  Bottom line, I don’t want anyone to not do it because they can’t pay or don’t want to pay. It will be between each person and God. If you benefit from the classes and don’t pay anything, that’s perfectly okay!

 

Update:  The first class offered will be on Building Your Faith.  It will be taught at 3 levels (you will choose, depending on how much work you want to do/have time to do).    I’m working on writing the course and the workbook materials at this time, and will announce it here and on facebook when I’m ready to take registrations.  If you want to be notified by email, please let me know at Alyce-Kay@LifeCoachAlyceKay.com  I’ve had a number of requests for an actual bound workbook, so the workbook materials will be available for purchase as a bound workbook, or to download and print yourself for free.

Why Would A Christian Celebrate A Jewish Feast?

The story is told of a rabbi who wondered why the Exodus story was told in the evening service.  Another, Ben Zoma, explained.  In Deuteronomy 16:3, the Jews are told to celebrate Passover  “… in order that you may remember all the days of our life the day when you came out of the land of Egypt.”  Ben Zoma pointed out that “the days of your life” would only include the days; “all the days of your life” means the nights also.  That part of the explanation apparently satisfied the rabbi, but the sage continued:  “The days of your life refers to the contemporary world; all the days of your life includes also the Days of the Messiah.”

We are, folks, in “the Days of the Messiah”!  And while we, as non-Jews are not bound by the laws and traditions of the Old Testament, we are certainly not prohibited from taking advantage of them, either.  (Romans 14:5-6)

Until the fourth century, Christians called Resurrection Sunday Pascha, from the Hebrew word Pesach (translated Passover in English.)  God set up each of the Old Testament holy days as a means by which He might draw His people to Himself.  The secondary purpose, and a means to the end, was to pass on the faith to the following generations.  This is especially clear in the Passover celebration.  (Deuteronomy 16:1-3)

The theme of Passover is “REMEMBER.”  Remember and teach.  Remember God’s power.  Teach it to your children.  Remember God’s sovereignty.  Teach them to honor Him as King.  Remember your redemption from Egypt.  Teach your children that we all must be redeemed through the Lamb.  (Exodus 12)

As Christians, we long to pass our faith on to our children.  While we recognize that tradition cannot save us, it can be useful as a faithful reminder, a place to hang your hat. By celebrating Passover, we too can remember … and teach.

But as Christians, we can go a step further.  Passover is not only a time of looking back and remembering.  It is also a time of looking forward, of anxiously awaiting.

Prophecy tells us that the Prophet Elijah was to come before Messiah to prepare His way.  (Malachi 4:5-6)  Toward the end of the Passover celebration, the children in a Jewish family open the door, hoping to see the Prophet Elijah.  Why?  Because they are waiting for Messiah!  The Passover celebrates not only redemption from Egyptian slavery, but redemption from slavery to sin.  Messiah came to set us free!  (Matthew 17:10-13, Luke 1:17)

The Jewish Passover ends with the hope that next year they will be able to celebrate in Jerusalem, the Holy City.  We look forward to a new city, a New Jerusalem, promised to us in the Revelation given to the Apostle John.  (Revelation 21:10 ff)

As Christians, we are not bound to Jewish laws and traditions.  We may make good use of them, but we are free to expound upon them as well.  (Acts 15:1-33)

Passover is prophecy.  Every aspect, whether ordained by God in Scripture, or passed down by Jewish tradition, points to Messiah and His sacrifice to redeem us from our sin.

In keeping with that, this Haggadah is a tapestry of God’s commands, Jewish tradition, New Covenant, and Scripture woven together to form a Passover seder which celebrates the Lord Jesus Christ, the final and effective Passover Lamb, slain and sacrificed for us.

I hope you and your family will come up with many of your own ways to add beauty and meaning to the Christian Passover celebration.

As you read through this haggadah and celebrate the Jewish Passover in a Christian way, my prayer is that you will feast upon and celebrate the Jewish Messiah:  the Lamb of God, the Lord Jesus Christ, who already came and redeemed us from our sins, and who is to come.  (Revelation 5:12; Revelation 4:8; Revelation 21:2)

Next year in the New Jerusalem!

(The above is an excerpt from Next Year In New Jerusalem, a Christian Passover Haggadah, which I’ve recently updated and put back into print.   If you have the old version, this is completely compatible with it.  The Seder script is still the same.  If you would like a copy of it, visit the link below.)

http://www.thebookpatch.com/BookStoreResults.aspx?search=Next%20year%20in%20new%20jerusalem&ddl=any

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Sparkling True Stories that Show Us How God Works

Ever wondered if God still talks to people?  Want to know how God shows folks His will?  Do you sometimes doubt that God will provide your needs like He promises?  Do you find yourself uncertain what a healthy marriage looks like?
Lin Sons’ recently released book, We Danced, is a sparkling collection of stories from her and Buck’s 40-year marriage, each concluding with a lesson we can apply to our own lives.  While written specifically for married couples, I found that it was easy to adapt to my own life as a single middle-aged person.
Her stories are ones that I think anyone who follows Jesus would be blessed to read.  They’re about every day life.  They give us a glimpse of what a great marriage looks like from the first date to death’s parting, and they put meat on the skeleton ideas we have of how God might work in our every day lives.  They show how God really still is a God of miracles, and how He does still lead and guide us.  Most of the stories are written in a delightful snapshot fashion, 5 to 10 minutes to read, and are perfect one a day.
We often read biographies of great Christians, and while we’re inspired by their lives, we tend to think, “Well, that was a long time ago,” or “Yes, but that person was really extraordinary.”  Lin is a normal person and her stories show how God provides for us, how He guides us, how He teaches us, and how He helps us through the rough times.  If He does these things for her, why wouldn’t He do it for you?
Who should read this book?
1.  Married couples.  The insights Lin has are treasure for those who want a good marriage.  Her questions are poised to open some great conversations, as well as help you pinpoint places in your marriage that could use a little tweaking in order to get it to line up with God’s plan.  This would be a great book to read together as a morning or evening devotional, to buy for a newly married couple (or as a wedding present), or give as an anniversary gift, no matter where a couple is on their journey.
2.  Engaged couples.  Wow, what a great foundation could be built if these thoughts and ideas were talked through and intentionally set in place even before the vows are said!  What inspiration to make our marriages pictures of Jesus and His Bride!
3.  Teens and young adults … or anyone who thinks they might want to get married someday.  Again, the examples here are golden.  Reading this book is a good way to determine some standards before you even start dating.
4.  Families and individuals.  There are life lessons here that are applicable to anybody’s life, even if you never get married.  If you don’t know how to find out what God’s will is for you, there are many examples here.  If you’re worried about paying bills … and if God has put on your heart to give away money you need … here’s encouragement and inspiration.  These are great things to ponder, journal about, or discuss as a family.

Reading this book was one of the highlights of my year.  I highly recommend We Danced for your reading pleasure and your spiritual growth.

http://www.amazon.com/We-Danced-Devotional-Excerpts-Fairy-Tale-ebook/dp/B00HR160L8/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1393711586&sr=8-1&keywords=we+danced+by+lin+sons

Celebrating Purim as a Christian Family

By Alyce-Kay Hanush

Purim is Saturday evening, March 15, through Sunday evening, March 16 this year.  So what is Purim, you ask?  Purim is the celebration begun at the end of the story of Esther in the Bible — the time that God preserved His people through a brave, young Jewish queen.  There are some wonderful lines in the book of Esther, such as “for such a time as this” and “if I perish, I perish.”

In Jewish families, this is a fun celebration.   You get to dress up as the various characters in the story.  You get to put on plays.  (And you get drunk, but I’m not advocating that.)  To learn more about the story of Esther, the traditional celebration of Purim, and  enjoy some fun Purim songs, you can go to the playlist I’ve put together for my grandkids.

How can we as Christian families (and I’m thinking mainly of families with elementary and younger children) make good use of this celebration?  Well, most obvious is the fact that we can use it to get to know an important story in the Bible.  But i think we can go much deeper than that.  Here are some of my ideas to get you started.  I would love it if you’d add your own ideas in the comment box — and feel free to include links to coloring pages or other goodies you find online.

TIP:  You can use this list for pretty much any story in the Bible.

1. OF COURSE, read the book of Esther as a family. You should definitely read it from the Bible, and you can probably find some books at the library, online, etc.  If you own a set of flannel graphs, I think this is a great way to learn Bible stories.  You can do the story each day, then have the kids move the pieces while you tell the story again, then have the kids tell the story and move the pieces.  We modern day families tend to look askance at flannel graph, but I’ve never found a child who doesn’t love it.  (I have a set of Betty Lukens flannel graphs — everything you need for the entire Bible, along with a book that has all the stories and tells you which pieces to use.  And the flannels are lovely and vivid.  You do have to cut out the pieces, though — I hired someone to do it for me.)  http://www.amazon.com/Large-Deluxe-Bible-English-Flannelboard/dp/B000TMKE6E/ref=sr_1_3?ie=UTF8&qid=1393199685&sr=8-3&keywords=betty+lukens

2. One of the things that I love about internet is that you can print your own coloring pages.  There are lots of sources for these.  You can keep these loose, or take them to your local FedEx shop or other print shop to have them bound into a coloring book for your kids.   My daughter, Sam, who has 4 young children, especially likes this site for Jewish story coloring pages:  http://www.chabad.org/kids/article_cdo/aid/361573/jewish/Coloring-Crafts.htm

3. Look for the character qualities in the story of Esther — both good and bad. (Examples of good qualities:  Faith, courage.  Examples of bad qualities:  Envy, lying.)  You could take one each day and talk about them. Here is a process you could use to talk to children about these qualities, starting with the good ones.  (Parents:  You don’t have to do all of these!)

a.  Explain the quality to them.

b.  Show how it’s illustrated in the book of Esther.

c.  Give some examples from your own life or someone the kids know to illustrate the quality.

d.  Look for other stories in the bible that demonstrate the quality.

e.  Ask your librarian to help you find story books that demonstrate the quality.

f.  Ask your kids what they think the benefits were to the story’s characters of having these qualities.

g.  What would the benefits be to them (your children), if they developed these (good) qualities in their own lives? How could they do that? Be sure to reinforce that we need God’s help with these things. We can pray and ask Him to help us have the kind of faith Esther had, for instance.

h.  As you see your kids exhibiting these qualities — even just a little — be sure to praise them for it. Ask them what motivated them to do that? How did it make them feel? How would they feel if they could keep doing that? What do they think God thinks about them doing that?  Questions like these will help to reinforce those qualities and the desire to grow.

i.  Look at some of the bad qualities.  Talk about those, too.  Help them to recognize those qualities in Bible characters and in other stories.

j.  Talk through what would motivate someone to have those negative qualities.  What should your children’s response be to someone with those qualities?

k.  Ask what the signs would be that they might recognize in themselves so they can guard against developing the bad qualities.

l.  Come up with your own stories about each of the qualities.  I used to have my children dictate their stories to me — try to type them exactly as they say them.  Don’t worry about story telling skills (unless you’ve been specifically working on that).  Make sure that you include the author after each story.  You can type them up and then print them out and take them to your local print shop to bind into a family book of Purim stories. (It generally costs a buck or two to bind pages into a book form.)  You might include a smattering of their coloring pages, too.  You might want to print out a copy for your family to enjoy now, a copy for each of your children which you’ll hide away and give to them when they start having kids, a copy for grandparents.  Each book would be uniquely adorned with different coloring pages the kids have done.  Talk about precious memories!

4. After you’ve told your kids the story of Esther a few times, they’ll probably be ready to act it out. Here’s where your costumes come in.  (See instructions below for super easy Bible character costumes.)  You can let them choose parts or take turns doing various parts. Try to come up with someone they can put on a play for … this will motivate them to practice a few times … reinforcing the story and its values in their lives.

5. Learn about Persia, where the story of Esther takes place. What country is this now? Find it on a map.  Look for pictures online.  What’s the weather like?  Talk about what it would be like to live there. Can you find any information about King Xerxes? What kinds of foods do they eat there? Maybe you could include those in your Purim celebration.

6. Have 3 nights of banquets (maybe with Persian food? but any nice food is fine). Is there some big news that you can promise to share, but keep putting off, to build the anticipation in your children, like Esther did with the King?

7. The movie, One Night with the King, is absolutely excellent.  You’ll find it in my playlist, but I’ve included the trailer below.  This is the perfect time of year to watch it!  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X1f1Pi1DHP4

8. I would love it if you’d share your Purim ideas and resources below, in the comment box, or on my facebook page at:  https://www.facebook.com/ToolsForGodlyLiving?ref=hl   If you share on facebook, I’d love to see pictures of your activities and celebration!  🙂

Super easy Bible character costume:  Use my fancy-pancy drawing below as a guide.

  1. Measure your child from shoulders to the floor.
  2. Get double that amount of fabric.  (For example, if they’re 36 inches from shoulders to floor, you’ll need 2 yards.)
  3. It’s a good idea to wash the fabric before sewing, just in case it will shrink.
  4. Fold the fabric in half, crosswise.  In other words, both cut ends of the fabric will be at the bottom, the fold at the top, and the factory finished edges on the sides.
  5. On each side, measure about 14 inches from the top fold, then cut inward about 10 inches.  Do this on each side.
  6. Cut straight down from there to the bottom.  This will create kind of a sleeve.  Pin these together and sew about 1/2 inch from the edge.
  7. At the top, cut out a neck hole.  Be careful not to make this too big.  It’s always best to start small, try it on, and make the hole bigger if need be.
  8. If you’re not much for sewing, this is all you need to do.  Turn it right side out and voila!  You have your Bible character costume.  If you like to sew, you can do the following steps (9-13) to make your costumes a little nicer and last longer.
  9. Finish the neckline with bias tape, or hem it, or use a fancy edging.
  10. Hem the sleeve holes.  Add fancy edging, if you want.
  11. Hem the bottom.  You can add fancy edging here, too.
  12. Clip the underarm curves so they’ll lay flatter.
  13. Seam finish the inner seams.
  14. Accessorize with rope belts, head gear, etc., as appropriate.

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Newly released!  Next Year In New Jerusalem, a Passover haggadah for Christians.  Complete instructions for a Christian celebration of Passover. Scripted ceremony includes fulfillment of Passover prophecies through Christ, footwashing, and the Lord’s Supper in the Passover context. Over 150 Bible references provide an easy guide for optional in-depth study. Pronunciation and glossary included. The full ceremony takes about 3 hours, including dinner. It’s designed to be enjoyed by all ages. I hope that this will enrich your appreciation of Jesus’ sacrifice for us, and that you’ll find yourself worshiping Him as you long to celebrate Passover next year with Him … in the New Jerusalem.

hagcover

http://www.thebookpatch.com/BookStoreDetails.aspx?BookID=32176&ID=5a08df7c-dae3-4e70-bc00-97bfdf072ca5

Slaves You Might Know

“Let my heart be broken with the things that break the heart of God.”  — Bob Pierce

I think there have probably been times when I’ve recommended a book that would be appropriate for anyone (and sometime soon, I hope to write a review of a book like that, that I recently read), but I think this is the first time I’ve ever said that there’s a book I think everyone SHOULD read … I would almost say that everyone has a moral obligation to read. (The reason I say “almost” is because I know I have friends — God bless them! I’m kind of the same way — who would balk at me defining what their moral obligation is. If I were not to use that word “almost,” my statement would cause them not to read it, for that reason alone.)

This book was not easy to read. There were times I found it so disturbing that I had to put it aside and regain my composure enough to continue. But that’s exactly why it needs to be read. Not to decondition us or make us calloused, certainly not to get us used to seeing this kind of thing, but because we NEED to be disturbed by this. Too many turn their heads away — they’re afraid to face these facts, they scorn the people who are victims, they don’t know what to do, etc.  There were people in Theresa’s life — the school security officer, teachers, friends, and others, who turned away when they saw what was happening, and even when she begged them for help. Many of us would possibly be guilty of the same thing.

When I shared this story with a few friends while I was reading it, their response was that she was stupid to not get out.  This is why we need to read this.  We need to understand what holds people in those situations.  If we think that they’re stupid, that should be a red flag to us that we need to gain better understanding.  I learned in acting class in college that people do things because they think it’s the best thing to do.  In our omniscient wisdom (tongue in cheek), we may be able to see that their decisions are foolish, or we may be able to see other options, but it makes us more human, more humane, and more godly, when we take the time to figure out why they think it’s the best thing to do.  Not necessarily a good thing; but sometimes, our only options (or at least the only ones we can see) are all bad, and we choose the best of those bad options.  Hint:  Someone doesn’t live through the terror and pain this young woman lived through if they think there are better options.   We need to allow God to give us compassion.  We need to beg God for compassion.   “Let my heart be broken with the things that break the heart of God.”  Bob Pierce (founder of World Vision and Samaritan’s Purse) said this, and I think it’s one of the godliest prayers we can pray.

There are times when we have to be willing to say, “No, don’t turn your head. This is important.” Asking you to read this book is one of those times.

The main purpose of this book is to help us understand how someone gets trapped in sex trafficking … in this country. A nice girl from a good family. An intact, loving family. A girl who was not promiscuous and was committed to saving sex for marriage.  There may be people you know who are stuck in this lifestyle and you don’t even know it.  But I think that it goes beyond that. It can also help you understand what it’s like to be abused or bullied — and why people stay in those situations when you think they have options.  I can almost guarantee you know people who are in that situation, whether you realize it right now or not.  I think this is a book we should read so that we can become better educated about things that need to be changed in our society (not just some place on the other side of the globe), but mostly so that we can become better human beings.

Btw, I know that my posts are read by a number of homeschoolers, so let me say this about using this book in school.  Yes, I think it would be valuable, in about junior high or high school.  And having your child read it could quite possibly save their life (which is why I would recommend junior high), in addition to helping them become better human beings.  Having said that, though, I think it’s a very good idea for you to read it first, so that you have a heads up as to what kinds of questions and discussions would be helpful in working through it.  This book is disturbing.  There’s just no way around that.  You might even want to read the book out loud to your kids so that you can have those discussions as you read … and so you can decide if you need to censor any details.  The woman who wrote this — about her own experiences — is quite conservative and has strong family values, but she does occasionally give some details your children may not be ready to hear.  If you read it ahead of time, it’s easy enough to know what to skip over (just a few sentences in the entire book).  If you decide to read this with your kids for school and you’d like help with coming up with discussion questions, leave me a comment asking for that, and I’d be happy to put some together.

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(Btw, I’m not an Amazon associate and I don’t get anything if you buy this book.  Just want to let you know:  You should read this. It’s also available in a print version.)

http://www.amazon.com/Slave-Across-Street-Theresa-Flores-ebook/dp/B0034KYZQ8/ref=sr_1_2?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1390266358&sr=1-2&keywords=the+slave+next+door